And so closes out of a month of my caring for and learning about the magnificent Asian "Chang" - Thai for elephant.
20 years ago, it is estimated that there were about 100,000 Asian elephants. Now? Less that 10,000 of which 5,000 are found in Thailand: 2000 in the wild and 3000 domesticated. A female elephant's gestation period is 18 to 22 months - she then cares for her baby for another 3 years. Five years per offspring. It is estimated more elephants die each year than baby elephants born .... hence the dramatic decline in the elephant population in the last few years.
I consider myself to have been extremely fortunate to have had this experience of being in the presence of these truly noble creatures. I applaud all those organizations, whether it be Maetaman Elephant Park, Thai Elephant Home, and others, that provide a safe environment for the planet's largest mammal.